Finding Good information on the Internet: Mission Impossible? William L. Merrill, Ph.D. Central Michigan University Mt. Pleasant, Michigan 48859 http://wlmerrill.com/
Realities of the Internet • A powerful tool to disseminate information quickly • A powerful tool to research topics • A powerful tool to communicate quickly across great distances • A powerful tool to enhance learning • Quickly becoming a highly interactive tool
Realities of the Internet • Anyone can post anything to the Internet • Obscene materials can be found on the Internet • Hate sites are the fastest growing type of site on the Internet • You are never sure who is communicating with you on the Internet • The Internet is an International Network • Most of the Internet has not been cataloged by the major search engines
Where to Begin? • When you first began using the library, you didn’t know how to find information • Just like learning to use the library, you must learn how to use the WWW effectively
Search Engines & Directories • Most users who search the Internet use one search site and conduct a basic search • Over 65% of the Internet has not been mapped by any of the top 10 search sites
Effective Searching • Take some time to think about what you want before you try to find it • Decide which search strategy you should use to maximize results and minimize time • General Search? • Advanced Search? • Database or Deep Web Search? • Specialized Search?
General Search • You can use any number of general search engines: • Yahoo • Google • AltaVista • Excite NetSearch • HotBot • And many more…
General Searches Read the search site’s “Help” pages so you know how to best use the engine
General Searches • Never type in a single word unless it is a highly technical word • Use “ “ for exact phrases • Use Boolean Logic • AND • NOT • OR • NEAR
General Searches • Find how many results the search returned • Scan the first page of the search results • Refine your search and/or search strategy if there are too many • Start over if you don’t get the results you expected I searched for “linear algebra”and teaching
General Searches By adding “high school activities” to the first two terms, I get a much better result of 21 pages/sites
You can often “Searchwithin results” afteran initial search. Another Method to Refine Your Search
Easy to view in your browser A Web Page in HTML A PDF Document Need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download and view A Text Document Need Acrobat Plug-In to view in your browser Open with your word processor, usually MS Word Must download to your computer General Searches 3 Types of Results
Other Common Files • .ppt -- PowerPoint Presentation
Search Within A Directory • Most all general search engines offer directory searches • Same rules as a basic search • Done after narrowing the type of site requested by selecting a category and possibly sub-categories
Search With A Meta Search Engine • Same as searching with a single search engine • A meta search engine takes your request to a number of different single search engines and returns all the resulting searches • Good to use since different search engines have mapped different parts of the Internet
Meta-Search Engines WARNING:The idea of meta-searching is much better than the reality. You would think you would save a lot of time by searching only in one place and sparing the need to use and learn several separate search engines. In fact, that is what people claim. But, in truth, meta-searchers offer a quick and dirty approach to searching that sometimes works. I no longer recommend meta-search engines in any step of a good search strategy. Take a look at these drawbacks to them: • Most of them dumbly pass your search terms on, without any concern to what happens to your carefully place " " or AND, OR or AND NOT, let alone your NEAR or you + or -. Ixquick and ProFusion handle complex searches intelligently. (New Vivissimo claims to offer this feature, but it often fails unpredictably. I like Vivissimo's subject breakdown in results.) While top-rated SurfWax passes searches through rather simply, it provides such great tools for mining results that all you need is simple searches to start with. • If you search does not get what you want, you do not have the ability to refine your search as you in what I consider the most powerful search engines around (Google, and AltaVista Advanced Search). All you can do is add a term and wonder where the meta-search engine is sending it. • None of the meta-search engines consistently queries all of the search engine it claims to query, and you don't know for sure what it is querying until you read the results. If you use ProFusion's advanced search, you have the best control available.
Advanced Searches • Allow greater flexibility in narrowing searches • Can usually specify domain [.edu, .com, .gov], currency of page [01 Jan 01 and later], language [English], country [.uk, .au], format [.pdf, .ppt, .doc], where the search word(s) appear, and of course you can use Boolean logic.
Good Single Search Engines Google: http://www.google.com/ AltaVista: http://www.altavista.com/ DogPile: http://www.dogpile.com/index.gsp Good Advanced Search Engines Google: http://www.google.com/advanced_search
Finding the “Deep Web” • The deep web is at least five times the size of the surface web [the surface web is accessible through search engines like Yahoo and Google]. Ignoring the Deep Web when conducting research is a huge mistake but finding the Deep Web can be difficult. The Deep Web is composed of databases of information and a web page or two written in Active Server Page [ASP] code. Neither the databases nor the ASP pages are visible to surface search engines. To find Deep Web sites you need specialized search engines.
Database Searches • More and more sites are moving toward using databases and Active Server Page [ASP] • ASP’s do not exist in cyberspace until someone queries the database for information • ASP’s are very efficient and use up less server space than traditional web sites. • Thousands of web pages can be generated using one template web page and a database.
Database Searches A search for journals with the word music in the title resulted in 5,612 records
Database Searches • Some general database sites can be found using general search engines, but many are not • Due to commercial concerns [many database resources don’t advertise on the web] • They can be hard to find due to the nature of the site
Places to find many of the best of these “Deep Web sites” are: http://invisible-web.net or http://www.invisibleweb.com or http://www.completeplanet.com or http://www.ed.gov/free/subject.html or http://www.internets.com/ or http://www.searchedu.com/ These site links you to many sites you cannot find with a surface web search engine.
Specialized Searches • To find specific information, a specialized search engine is often best • Specialized search engines only look for a narrow band of content on the Internet • For example, http://www.ditto.com/ searches for pictures [.gif or .jpg files] • Specialized search engines are sometimes associated with a database of information • For example, http://www.bartleby.com/ searches many databases for quotes, spellings, etc.
Specialized Searches Hundreds of specialized search engines are found at: MITeachers.org - http://miteachers.org Sponsored by the Department of Teacher Education &Professional Development atCentral Michigan University
Authority and Accuracy Examples
Authority and Accuracy Examples
Currency and Coverage Examples
Currency and Coverage Examples
Marketing Oriented Web Pages (Blending Advertising and Entertainment or Information) Other Criteria
Personal Web Pages Other Criteria
Evaluating What You Find • Evaluating Information Found on the Internet: http://www2.vuw.ac.nz/staff/alastair_smith/evaln/
Excellent Books • Sherman, C. & Price, G. (2001). The Invisible Web. Information Today, Inc: Medford, NJ. • Schlein, A.M. (2001). Find It Online. Facts on Demand Press: Tempe, AZ. • Glossbrenner, A. & Glossbrenner, E. (1999). Search Engines for the World Wide Web. Peachpit Press: Berkeley, CA.
Excellent Books • Joseph, L.C. (1999). Net Curriculum. Information Today, Inc: Medford, NJ • Skomars, N. (1999). Educating with the Internet. Charles River Media: Rockland, MA. • Jonassen, D.H., Peck, K.L., & Wilson, B.G. (1999). Learning with Technology: A Constructivist Perspective. Merrill: Columbus, OH.